The royal feast was done; the king
Sought some new sport to banish care,
And to his jester cried: "Sir Fool,
Kneel now, and make for us a prayer!"
The jester doffed his cap and bells,
And stood the mocking court before;
They could not see the bitter smile
Behind the painted grin he wore.
He bowed his head, and bent his knee
Upon the monarch's silken stool;
His pleading voice arose: "O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!
"No pity, Lord, could change the heart
From red with wrong to white as wool;
The rod must heal the sin: but Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!
"'Tis not by guilt the onward sweep
Of truth and right, O Lord, we stay;
'Tis our follies so long
We hold the earth from heaven away.
"These clumsy feet, still in the mire,
Go crushing blossoms without end;
These hard, well-meaning hands we thrust
Among the heart-strings of a friend.
"The ill-timed truth we might have kept-
Who knows how sharp it pierced and stung?
The word we had not sense to say-
Who knows how grandly it had rung?
"Our faults no tenderness should ask,
The chastening stripes must cleanse them all;
But for our blunders--oh, the shame
Before the eyes of heaven we fall.
"Earth bears no balsam for mistakes;
Men crown the knave, and scourge the fool
That did his will; But Thou, O Lord,
Be merciful to me, a fool!"
The room was hushed; in silence rose
The king, and sought his gardens cool,
And walked apart, and murmured low,
"Be merciful to me, a fool!"
-The Fool's Prayer
By Edward Roland Sill
If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age,
he must become foolish, so that he may become wise.
For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God.
1 Corinthians 3:18-19
It's the great mystery of heaven. God loves contradictions. He is the eternal One who entered time and space. He is all-powerful, yet He became weak for us; the majestic King who wore our crown; the Master who became the servant to His creation. He is the Lord of Life, the One who chose death for us.
He's the dead man who rose from the grave.
The legacy He left behind was a grand list of opposites:
If you want to live, come and die.
To be forgiven, you must forgive.
To go higher, you must go lower.
To be wise, you must become a fool.
To have it all, you must be willing to give up everything.
When you are cursed, you will bless in return.
Oh, the power of contradiction!
It really is magnificent. God knows how to purify our motives and take us straight to the heart of the issues clouding our vision. By living a life of God's contradictions, we learn to separate ourselves from the deceit of this world.
Because, ultimately, this world is going away. The place we live in now is not as solid and eternal as it feels. A new heaven and earth is coming, a world in which only righteousness lives (Revelation 21:1-5). We're just here to get ready for that day.
For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing,
but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men,
and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
1 Corinthians 1:18,25
What other contradictions can you think of that God teaches us? What gives this irony its great power to challenge and change us? How does it purify our motives?